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Wow, It’s Official — The Subscription Model is Coming to Medium…

At Upfront Summit, Ev Williams made an enormous announcement. In the next couple months, Medium will be releasing one of it’s biggest features yet: a subscription model.

(For more on this announcement, check out this article by Josh Constine of TechCrunch.)

As you may know, Medium recently laid off a third of it’s workforce in hopes of recalibrating and redefining it’s plan for revenue. Thus, the subscription announcement is the first step on the long road ahead.

Other social media platforms have toyed around with the subscription model, such as YouTube with YouTube Red. Yet, YouTube Red is still struggling to get the ball rolling with paid subscribers, with only 1.5 million out of over a billion users paying for the service.

On the other hand, companies like Spotify have reached around 40% premium subscribers. It will be interesting to see where Medium falls in the spectrum of paid subscribers…but let’s hope for at least 41% ;)

In light of this, let’s take a pledge to subscribe.

When the announcement comes, I will subscribe. If you are an avid Medium user and gained value from the platform, I hope you will too.

If we do not subscribe, who knows what will happen? We are in the midst of a consolidating tech market, especially amongst social media platforms (for more on that, give my article here a look). Medium is a tech company that has raised $132 million in venture capital, and the tech industry is wrought with investors hoping to see nothing but quarterly growth — sometimes even at the expense of long-term growth (for more on that topic, give DHH’s article a read if you haven’t already, and Jeff Bezos’ approach to investors).

My point here is we need to do what we can to ensure nothing drastic and tragic happens to our beloved Medium.

We live in a world where digital products are inherently undervalued relative to other products. We will shell out $5 for a pumpkin spice latte in a heartbeat, but the second we have to pay $1.99 for an app, we begin to conduct cost-benefit analysis as if we were buying a damn house.

Whatever the price is, let’s make sure to give back to the platform and the community that has provided us so much value. Personally, I couldn’t count how many Medium articles have changed my life, but a conservative estimate would be hovering around 50.

If we want Medium to become all that it can be, the YouTube for writers and more, then we must do our part to support the platform we all love.

Additionally, it will take more than the Medium nerds (like me) to make this a move a success. Medium will need to create a premium offering that will be too hard to pass up without completely isolating free members.

In the wake of fake news scandals, I believe Medium has unique leverage to become the hub of real news and thought leadership if:

  1. It positions itself as such.
  2. The Editor’s picks are more carefully curated than ever before, and designed to be pieces that are transparent, authentic, and written by writers from all walks of life.
  3. More specifically, Medium should use the example of the BuzzFeed controversy (reported by Akilah Hughes) for a case study, for key learnings, and for the “beacon” of what it could truly become.

Side Note: We as readers also have a role to play in all of this. Keep Medium writers in check — do this by fact-checking their articles if something seems fishy.

Look, here’s the deal: There’s something special going on at Medium. We (whether you’re a Medium employee, a Medium reader or Medium writer) are a part of something with the potential to be truly groundbreaking.

We are at a crossroads of consumer attention when it comes to reading, writing, and the “blogosphere”. With the seemingly endless amount of standalone blogs out there on the web, the market is thirsting for a platform that will consolidate blogging, and bring the value it provides into one convenient and curated location.

Medium provides this service.

In addition, Medium activates and gives a voice to a demographic/profession where far too many undervalued and unseen personalities exist: writing.

YouTube did this exact thing for filmmakers, comedians, musicians and more. Instagram did this exact thing for photographers and models. Let’s do what we can do to make sure this happens on Medium!

In the comment section: What do you think about all of this? Would you pay for a Medium subscription? Thanks for reading!

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